By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, October 31st, 2010 at 7:18 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The heck with getting mad. The Raiders instead got even.
They’re 4-4 on Nov. 1, the first time they’ve seen .500 this late in the season since 2002, and we all know where they ended up that year.
How is this happening?
By being accountable to themselves and not worrying about bad press, bad officiating or shrinking attendance.
Even before the Raiders piled on the points and stats late in a 33-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, it was a more impressive win than the previous week’s 59-14 win over the Denver Broncos for a lot of reasons.
It was happening at home, where the Raiders strangely have played worse than they have on the road in recent years.
It happened after a couple of failed opportunities in the red zone to open the game, and turn the clock back a couple of weeks against the 49ers to see how it affected the Raiders that day.
It happened against a Seattle team that entered the game at 4-2 in the NFC West. A weak division to be sure, and the Seahawks aren’t an imposing team.
But the Raiders correctly diagnosed the Seahawks problems perfectly and then took them apart with a picture perfect game plan in all three phases.
It would have been as big a win at 17-3 as it was 33-3 simply because it meant back-to-back wins going into the Kansas City game next week.
The Raiders, for the first time in seven years, are relevant again.
Their fan base will no doubt bring the “no respect theme’’ hard and heavy, but it would behoove the Raiders to handle it exactly as they have so far _ by assessing their strengths, improving their weaknesses and enjoying improvement as a total entitity.
Taking a moment to relive the days of a decade ago driving the kids on vacation to some distant locale, the question arises, “Are we there yet?’’
“No, no, we’re getting there, we’re getting there,’’ Raiders coach Tom Cable said. “It’s great to win this game and get to 4-4. It’s great to win two in a row _ which wasn’t really talked about this week _ and it’s just good to know there’s a lot more football in this team. It’s also disappointing that we are 4-4, to be quite honest with you.’’
More, news, notes, quotes and observations:
— Cable said X-rays on Nnamdi Asomugha’s ankle were negative and that he didn’t know the severity. It didn’t look good.
Just judging from how it looked, I’d be surprised to see him ready to face the Chiefs. He left the game earlier with a hand injury that was wrapped up and returned.
— Monster offensive stats in a game that didn’t look to be headed that way. The Raiders ended with 545 yards of total offense. That’s 1,053 yards in the last two games and a combined score of 92-17. The first time ever going back to back with 500 yards.
Darren McFadden gained 29 yards on his first 12 carries and then 82 on his last nine carries to finish with 111 yards on 21 attempts, highlighted by a 49-yard run.
The Raiders rushed for 239 yards on 39 attempts. Bush had a 30-yard gain, Reece had a 31-yard gain, Darrius Heyward-Bey a 30-yard run with a reverse.
— Passing? How about Jason Campbell going 15 of 27 for 310 yards and two touchdowns, a fourth-and-1 30-yard dart to Reece and a 69-yard strike to Heyward-Bey, who had five catches for 105 yards.
In case you were wondering, Cable says Bruce Gradkowski is the quarterback when healthy. He was throwing 20-yard passes in pregame and was designated as No. 3.
The guess here is Campbell faces the Chiefs.
“Coach Cable came to us the night before the Denver game and said, said, ‘No more ‘what if’, shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’, and throw it out the window. Let’s create things. Let’s try to make things happen,’ ‘’ Campbell said.
“He said, `Just cut it loose.’ Don’t worry about pressuring yourself to make every play worrying about being perfect. Just play ball.’ And I think it kind of won the team over.’’
Campbell even took out tough-guy safety Lawyer Milloy on a reverse to Jacoby Ford which gained 13 yards.
“I’m used to being the one getting hit. To lay one on someone else, it felt good,” Campbell said. “Kyle Boller told me that I should take those pants home because I had a little blood on them.”
— The Raiders had four players with more than 100 yards of combined rushing and receiving _ McFadden (135), Heyward-Bey (135), Reece (122) and Michael Bush (106).
— With the Seahawks missing left tackle Russell Okung and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane due to injury, the Raiders dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Seattle managed just 47 yards rushing on 19 carries, with Marshawn Lynch getting 7 yards on nine carries in his homecoming _ including a 7-yard gain.
With the run choked off, Matt Hasselbeck never had a chance. He was harassed into a 13-for-32 performance and was sacked eight times.
Richard Seymour and Kamerion Wimbley had two sacks each. Tyvon Branch, Matt Shaughnessy, Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston had one each.
“It’s like a snowball effect. I get one, he gets one, everybody wants to get one,’’ Kelly said. “It’s like, can’t let them have all the fun. Everybody wants one.”
The Raiders did some blitzing, but it wasn’t necessary to go overboard because the natural pressure was more than Seattle could deal with.
Shaughnessy is giving the Raiders some of their best defensive end play in years. McClain and Houston have made quantum leaps over the last three games.
“I would say the significant strides started three weeks ago,’’ Cable said. “I think the presence of both of those guys is significantly improved. They’re getting it. And you have to talk about Matt Shaughnessy on the other side. He’s doing a heck of a job. I think getting Trevor Scott settled in again at end has really helped us. We have a nice rotation at end.’’
– Quote of the day by Seattle coach Pete Carroll: “We accomplished nothing in any aspect of football.’’
A 1-for-16 performance on third down conversions would be a part of that.
– Reece may not be the best fullback in football, but he is the most unique.
That he has no peer athletically at position which favors plow horses has been evident for some time. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is finding more and more ways to get him involved.
— Highlight of the day _ fans on my live chat giving Hue Jackson grief for the fourth-and-1 pass to Reece for a 30-yard touchdown. A perfect pass, a gutsy play executed flawlessly.
Blind luck,said some. Risky and lucky.
Honestly, some people ought to sit back and enjoy the ride. It hasn’t been like this for seven years and there’s no guarantee it will continue, so why not enjoy a decent bottom line for a change?
— Are the Raiders suddenly the NFL’s most fortunate team? Campbell’s pass off the knee of Heyward-Bey which resulted in a 55-yard pass play to Michael Bush was even luckier than Tyvon Branch’s interception which Deon Butler pushed into the air while making a valiant attempt at a reception.
Of course, Stanford Routt originally broke up the pass to Butler that ended up in Branch’s hands.
And, as Cable said, “Good teams get breaks. They make their breaks because of how hard they’re playing.’’
— Reserve tackle Khalif Barnes, who has become a blocking tight end in run formations, has been bragging during open locker room to the media about his skills as a receiver.
He caught his first NFL pass in the first quarter from Campbell and gained six yards.
“Good ball security,’’ Cable deadpanned. “I’d like to see him get more yards. He could have, too.’’